Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(James 3:13-18; Mark 9:14-29)
In one of his books Biblical scholar Fr. Raymond Brown expressed exasperation with some of his counterparts. He said that where a particular passage was difficult to interpret, these commentators often became strident about their positions. Fr. Brown had a finger on an example of the point James makes in today’s first reading.
James emphasizes how humility is part of the search for understanding. A wise person does not pretend to know her subject with precision, but studies it prodigiously. In coming to understand, she does not jealously guard her progress or seek to exploit it for ungainly profit. In contrast, James says, a foolish person is driven by the need for gratification. He is likely to may make dubitable claims in order to attract attention if not dollars. In the end the wise person promotes a culture of integrity while the fool creates an atmosphere of suspicion.
Humility becomes any person. We are probably not as good, intelligent or wise as we think. We should recognize how others possess qualities or information that we lack. This humble stance will move us to learn from and cooperate with them. Hopefully in the end, we will find ourselves growing in appreciation of others and in peace with ourselves.